While working Powell’s City of Books over during one of my days on vacation, I acquired a handsome volume of “Calvinism and Evangelical Arminianism” by John Lafayette Girardeau, a remarkable man of French Huguenot and Scottish Presbyterian descent, who pastored slaves and slave owners and taught at the original Columbia seminary in the South, and voiced the sole “nay” in the vote to segregate the Southern Presbyterian Church in 1874.
Someone named James M. Bulman, in the introduction, cites “one of the Hodges” as admiring this book as “the most convincing argument for Calvinism to be seen anywhere”. Mr. Bulman agrees, citing “literary craftsmanship befitting French extraction; and something of the genuinely oratorical, pulsating with warmth of religious devotion”, as well as the unique ability to fully communicate the strength of a theological system afforded by defending one particular, fully-orbed view (in this case Girardeau’s particular brand of federalist sublapsarian Calvinism) against its strongest contender (Wesleyan, or “Evangelical” Arminianism).
Having once held to all five of the points upheld at the Synod of Dort, and still holding to a unique respect for, and partial agreement with, the Reformed tradition, I have decided to attempt a charitable review and exacting critique of Girardeau’s treatment of the objections to Unconditional Election from God’s goodness and from man’s moral responsibility. These treatments only make up a fraction of the book, but they are formidable in their own right and are the sections I am most interested in.